New community mailboxes stoke postal worker fears in London

They’re back.

Or, are they?

Their roll-out frozen by Justin Trudeau when his Liberals swept to power two years ago, group mailboxes are starting to pop up again in some areas of London — worrying critics and postal workers alike.

Relax, says Canada Post: It’s only temporary, a short-term safety move and only on streets so riddled by construction that letter carriers can’t make it through pylons and dug-up stuff to get to doorsteps - writes lfpress.com.

But door-to-door delivery advocates aren’t buying it.

“It seems like something sneaky might be going on,” said Wendy Goldsmith, who heads the doorstep delivery group Londoners for Door-Door. “I don’t trust what Canada Post is saying.”

Goldsmith said she was surprised to hear of new community boxes sprouting across the city.

London was in the midst of the installation of community boxes for another 42,000 households, part of a nationwide campaign driven by declining mail volume and higher costs, when the Trudeau Liberals put the brakes to the roll-out. Newer subdivisions have for years had the group delivery boxes.

Canada Post says any new mailboxes in old neighbourhoods are temporary, until roadwork is completed.

“We have put temporary measures in place to maintain mail service to our customers and to ensure the safety of our customers and employees,” a spokesperson said.

“Affected customers have received a letter informing them that they will receive delivery to the temporary group mailboxes until construction has been completed.”

Goldsmith is skeptical.

The group boxes — Goldsmith calls them “self-serve mailboxes” — have been installed on Maitland Street, Beachwood Avenue, Griffith Street and Edward and Emery streets, neighbourhoods all across the city.

They’ll be removed when construction is finished, Canada Post says.

For postal workers, the boxes are a worrying sign.

Trudeau’s blanket freeze is an interim measure, and the federal government was expected to reveal a long-term decision before Parliament broke for the summer, said Karen Finlay-Russell, president of the London local of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).

Now, postal workers are hearing the plan may be tabled next month.

Finlay-Russell said community mailboxes — and the lack of answers — will be a big topic during upcoming contract negotiations.

“It is something we’ll be discussing,” she said. “The members are kind of frustrated that the decision hasn’t been made by the government.”

Anxiety is mounting for many workers, said Derek Richmond, a regional campaign coordinator with CUPW Ontario.

“Our members are very concerned. There’s a lot of job losses associated around community mailboxes, up to 30 to 40 per cent per (postal) station. Our guys are looking at that seniority list and going, ‘Hey, I’m in that bottom 30 to 40 per cent’ and they’re worried,” he said.

Door-to-door delivery is equally as important for residents, Goldsmith said.

“it’s a great benefit for the elderly, for people who are shut-in. There’s many instances of letter carriers being the eyes and ears of the community, and preventing break-ins or reporting somebody in distress,” she said.

Read more news of London on our site.

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